Three airlines have effectively reduced the number of miles needed to obtain award travel this season.
First we learned that VirginAtlantic was offering 20% bonus miles when converted from Amex points in October, effectively a 20% reduction in the miles needed for flying in all classes of service.
Although not quite the same thing, US Airways now gives a bonus mile for each mile purchased through Nov 15 2010. So, for less than $1400, one can buy enough miles to fly in business class virtually anywhere US Airways or its SkyTeam alliance Star Alliance partners fly.
And now, the Air France/KLM airline has halved the number of miles needed for travel on dozens of routes.
Of course, with half of France on strike (sacre bleu! retire at 62! why, we'll be luckly to retire at 82!) you may want to avoid Air France altogther, but assuming that the French worker realizes that 30 or so years of doing nothing might get a bit boring, these are indeed great offers.
You can fly to Europe from various U.S. cities for half the normal number of miles required in the FlyingBlue (i.e., AirFrance/KLM) frequent flyer program. For example, you'd need just 50,000 miles to fly roundtrip from Dallas to Europe in business class on KLM, and a mere 25,000 miles in economy!
On Air France, it's just 57,000 miles to fly from Los Angeles to Europe in biz class, or 28,750 in econ. You can't fly to Peoria some days for that few miles.
Mileage reductions are also on offer from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Montreal, Calgary, and Detroit, and also from Europe to many destinations. There are various date restrictions and book by dates for each route.
So if you have miles in FlyingBlue, you're in luck. If you don't, you still may be in luck, since you can transfer points in the American Express Membership Rewards program or Starwood Starpoints into your FlyingBlue account.
In addition to the French airport and fuel workers propensity to strike at a moment's notice, there's also the issue of award seat availability. A 50% discount on required miles is of little use if there are no seats available, and we can't guarantee that your preferred dates of travel will be offered.
Not a member yet of FlyingBlue? Sign up here.
--George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com